Conversation with Shahram Shiva
by: Vidya Balachander, India
Ascent Toward Popularity from the Point of View of Popular Culture
What do you think about this comment by Time Magazine: "Rumi
gives America an Islam it can love?"
No one I know reads Rumi as a way of gaining Islamic knowledge. Some
of his poetry is simply considered blasphemous by traditional Islam.
So I don't agree with the Time article in its entirely. I think "Rumi
gives Islam a kinder face to show to the West" would be more appropriate.
what extent is Rumi's poetry 'secular'- free from the 'spokes' of religion
as we see it today?
Rumi has nearly 8000 poems. He has covered from the most religious to
most secular, passionate, erotic and in some cases pornographic. It
is not possible to corner Rumi into a small hole, as it would be with
other poets. He is not really a 'poet' in a traditional sense. Someone
like Kabir or Hafez are predictable almost in every poem and their style
is basically consistent throughout. Rumi was a rare combination of intelligent
and creativity. A poet, he is not. An expressive, highly evolved being,
However, you can say that some of his poems are secular, or some are
free of dogma, or some are erotic, or some are extremely passionate.
But a broad brush can't be used to describe him.
it in fact, an accurate way to study Rumi- by dissociating his work
completely from the Islam in which it was born?
Not entirely true. Islam is only 1300 years old. A child compared to
Hinduism or Judaism or even Persia's own Zoroastrianism. Most knowledge
in Islam already existed in other mystical traditions. However the language
and the _expression of this religion can be said that is unique to (and
for) the Arab world.
Rumi is a complete human. It is my belief that any other fully evolved
being from any other spiritual path would share the same thoughts as
Rumi. Gandhi comes to mind. Some of the poet saints of India, and from
the Christian world read similar to some of the poetry of Rumi.
To limit Rumi to one religion is to dismiss his greatness. He is a poet
of the world.
what extent does the popularity of Rumi's poetry reflect on the contemporary
tendency to seek 'spirituality'- as independent from religion?
I think that says it all. As dogma gradually crumbles around us, with
gross misuse of responsibility by the so-called world clergy, 'spirituality'
and attempts to personal betterment will prove to be the only means
to realize some fulfillment in this life. The movement has already begun.